Zola Geyer has big dreams. “In 15 years, I want to be on Broadway,” she said. The 11-year-old home school student is inching steadily toward her goal. Her first step was joining Making Light Productions. Zola has been cast in their original musical production called “Under the Rainbow” and she’s looking forward to her debut. “I love all of it so far, but singing is my favorite thing,” she said.
“Under the Rainbow” is set in the bird sanctuary of Noah’s Ark and the show explores what it means to be different. It celebrates individuality and inclusivity which are guiding tenets of Making Light. The nonprofit theater arts education organization is committed to serving children of all abilities.
The cast of “Under the Rainbow” is comprised of kids with special needs working and learning alongside their typically developing peers. Together, they study music, dance, and acting, as well as build sets, make costumes and perform.
Zola plays a Counting Crow in the production and her costume comes complete with a green accountant’s visor. She embodies her organized and analytical character by drawing on some of her natural personality traits though other aspects of her role are more demanding. “I use body language to show that my character’s angry. It’s hard sometimes, trying to find that anger and frustration so it comes across.”
In the show Zola acts exasperated but in reality, she’s delighted to be part of this one-hour musical comedy alongside newfound friends like Naomi Asher who plays the Hummingbird. Naomi is in the fifth grade at Gilchrist Elementary School and she enjoys the camaraderie of her castmates. She’s been involved with Making Light for two years and she’s excited about “Under the Rainbow.”
“It’s a really heartwarming show and it’s about being kind to people,” Naomi explained. “The Hummingbird is a fun part. I fly around really fast and have a really obnoxious laugh.”
Though Naomi appreciates the attention of an audience, she mostly enjoys the process of rehearsing. “What we say in theater is ‘practice makes perfect.’ I do the same thing with violin. It’s a really hard instrument to play but the more you practice, it becomes easier. Like school work and tests.”
Much like learning lines or new choreography, we can also learn tolerance and acceptance – lessons that benefit everyone. Children who work side-by-side with others of different abilities learn that we all have something worthy to contribute. Cooperation and collaboration make us stronger as evidenced by the creative team for “Under the Rainbow.”
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